Notes: Erstad's return a boost for Halos

Notes: Erstad's return a boost for Halos

ANAHEIM -- The Angels defense received a boost on Monday when the club activated Darin Erstad from the 15-day disabled list.

Outfielder Tommy Murphy, who was hitting .243 with a home run and three RBIs for the Angels, was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room on the roster.

Erstad had been out since May 1 with irritation in his right ankle and started in center and batted seventh. Chone Figgins -- who had been the everyday center fielder -- started as the designated hitter.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Erstad will get more time off than he normally would if completely healthy, but added that he will likely see most of his action in center rather than at first base or designated hitter.

Erstad's return comes just in time for a team that entered Monday leading the league in unearned runs allowed with 43.

"We missed Ersty in a number of ways," Scioscia said. "You can talk about the intangibles and they're certainly important, but his ability to play defense in center field makes everyone around him better."

For his career, Erstad holds a .995 fielding percentage and has won a Gold Glove on three occasions.

More of a concern for the Angels could be the outfielder's offensive performance during his rehab assignment. Appearing with Salt Lake and Class A Rancho Cucamonga during the past week and a half, Erstad hit .091 (3-for-33).

Erstad, though, isn't worried about his numbers. After all, the veteran hit .125 during a 2004 rehab stint, but batted .306 upon his return.

"I was rusty and didn't hit very well," he said. "I had better at-bats [near the end] and, again, I don't put much stock into results."

Pain from his ankle caused Erstad to remove himself from a game last week, making it seem certain that his return was further off. After returning to Los Angeles and taking two full days off, Erstad went back to the Salt Lake club and started three straight games.

Erstad -- who was hitting .238 when he went on the DL -- said his ankle is not 100 percent, but is healthy enough to where he won't hamper the team.

"It's at that point where the question is, 'Can you help the team win?'" he said. "I'm at that point."

Last start? Tuesday will likely mark Jered Weaver's final start in the Majors -- at least for now.

If all goes well with Bartolo Colon's scheduled rehab start on Monday, Weaver is all but assured of being sent back to Salt Lake. The pitcher, despite being 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA, acknowledged as much on Monday.

"It's been a dream come true for me," Weaver said. "We have the Cy Young winner coming back and obviously I'm the odd man out, but I'm glad I had success when I was here.

"I know [Colon] is feeling pretty good; whenever he comes back I'm sure I'll be the one to go."

Although he doesn't have enough innings to qualify, Weaver leads all Angels starters in ERA and strikeouts per nine innings, with 7.9.

Interleague prep: To get ready for next week's Interleague road series against the Giants and Diamondbacks, where there will be no DH rule, some of the Angels starting pitchers took batting practice on Monday.

Kelvim Escobar, John Lackey and Jeff Weaver all took hacks against pitches from Scioscia. Lackey had the most impressive swing, hitting a home run into the Angels bullpen in left field.

Not taking their cuts were Monday's starter Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver.

Halfway there: With a single to left in the first inning, shortstop Orlando Cabrera extended his team record of consecutive games reaching base safely to 42.

The run is the longest current stretch in baseball, but is just halfway to the Major League record of 84 games, held by Ted Williams.

Finley honored: Former Angels starting pitcher Chuck Finley was elected into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

The native of Monroe, La., will be inducted along with seven others June 22-24 in Natchitoches, La.

Finley, who was with the Angels from 1986-99 and a five-time All-Star, is the club's all-time leader in wins (165), innings pitched (2,675) and games started (379).

On the farm: In his second game back with Salt Lake, shortstop Erick Aybar had three hits on Sunday, including a double. ... Shortstop Brandon Wood hit his 14th home run for Double-A Arkansas. Wood is third in the Texas League in home runs and his 44 RBIs place him fourth.

Up next: Jered Weaver will make the fourth start of his career when he takes on recent Royals acquisition Brandon Duckworth at 7:05 p.m. PT on Tuesday.

Greg Wagner is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.